What Month Is It Anyway?

By David Oatis, Director
May 11, 2010

The weather always seems to jump around some in the spring, and it certainly is doing that this year! Long johns have been traded for sun block and vice versa a couple of times already this year, and that always makes for an interesting start to the season. Golfers have been out in droves on many courses, and their early start has made it challenging to get the last of the spring cleanup accomplished. Despite the unseasonably warm temperatures we have experienced at times, there have been plenty of cold snaps, and some areas still are experiencing some frost. Playing conditions in the Northeast Region probably won’t round into peak form for a few more weeks.

When golfers experience a few warm days, they start to expect better playing conditions. A few warm days followed by cold weather, and possibly frost, gives golfers the perception that things should be growing, but the annual bluegrass and the bentgrasses won’t grow consistently under these conditions. Here are a few things you can expect for the next couple of weeks:

  • Bentgrass is very prone to mechanical injury during the spring season, and even normal mowing and rolling operations may cause visible injury to bentgrass while temperatures remain cool.
  • With sporadic cool periods and even a few frosts, certain bentgrass cultivars become severely discolored. It may look like a disease, but more often than not, the discoloration is just a result of the cool temperatures, possibly combined with some mechanical injury.
  • Poa/bent putting greens will remain somewhat bumpy until the growth of the two species evens out, and this won’t happen until we experience consistently warm temperatures. For warmer, more southerly areas, this may be occurring right now. For cooler areas, this may not occur for another month.
  • Regardless of how effective your seed head suppression program worked, a few seed heads, (maybe quite a few) often pop up, and these will contribute to the bumpy conditions.
  • We haven’t seen any ABW damage yet, but it is just around the corner. Plan on the first weevil damage to begin appearing in the next two weeks or so.
  • Cool season brown patch and brown ring patch both may be active now, but as conditions continue to warm (especially if it is dry) cool season brown patch will fade away. The two are difficult to distinguish between, and since the conditions that favor each are similar and overlap, be sure to get a laboratory diagnosis.


Turf Advisory Service Visits

We are rapidly approaching the May 15 prepayment deadline for Turf Advisory Visits, so be sure to get your payments in quickly and take advantage of the $500 discount for early payment. Remember, it doesn’t matter when you take the visit, just pay for one visit by May 15 and save $500 per visit for the entire year. Contact Dave Oatis, Director doatis@usga.org; Adam Moeller, Agronomist amoeller@usga.org; or Jim Skorulski, Senior Agronomist jskorulski@usga.org for a Turf Advisory Service visit this season. 

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At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

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